tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 6, 2015 2:00am-4:01am EST
almost to the point where it is not really divisive at all. it's almost to the point where it's not really divisive at all. almost the unanimous opinion against it. a minority position in the party in favor of trade positions, but the president may go ahead and push for fast-track authority. >> you will admit it is a departure. he and senator reid have been linked at the hip in terms of major issues. >> they have been, but the trade negotiations in the real world haven't gotten to the point where it's been necessary to come to congress for legislative action on trade agreements.
it may be at the point where it may be right to do that. >> dan? >> the answer in my mind, i guess there is a distinction with triangulation. i guess the president is throwing his party overboard to work with republicans -- that rarely works. i would suggest to some degree it is not that complicated a question. if you have a divided government and want to get something done, you have got to work with the other party. i draw the contrast to that. i was still's immediate predecessor. president bush left and president obama came in. i can remember being interviewed between the election and inauguration by somebody asking how his job would be different from mine.
for me it was fairly straightforward. we didn't get anything done if it didn't get past by the democratic congress. he was going to have a majority party of the same party. my comment at the time was it is going to be quite a bit different because he is going to rely on democrats, that he will be criticized. -- yet he will be criticized. you go back to what i was talking about. these folks get elected to try to move the country in the direction consistent with their philosophy and values. there was an opportunity. to have a republican majority in the house and senate, they will follow that model rather than some other model.
that's the only way to get it done. they have to cut deals with republicans in congress. >> can you imagine senator reid saying, we don't need to let the republicans look like they can govern at all. we don't need to put up legislative wins. why don't we play hardball? >> that could be the right approach for senator reid. president obama might want to get some things done his last two years, whether it is legacy or just to believe he got elected to do something and he is trying to get something done. if his priority comes insuring a democrat sees him in the white house, that is different. >> you may recall in 95 democrats were completely aligned in opposing what republicans were doing.
there was synchronicity in everything we did. after we won the narrative war on who caused the shutdown and why it was bad, i remember many hours of deliberation where we talked about reaching out about making deals and knowing full well senator daschle was going to be very upset. he argued that we successfully damaged them for overreaching. why can't we just continue that? the president argued it was in his self interest to make deals. there is a calculus that goes on. >> there was a calculus at the same time. bob dole was running for president. there was a sense, as you recall, president clinton vetoed
the welfare reform bill twice. there was a sense, coming from former democrats who said, if you pass that by itself, you will sign welfare reform, which will split the party, but you need to do that politically. congressional republicans decided, that's what they need to do to show they could govern. and the type of policy they had been deliberating for a long time. >> do you want to say anything? >> i will be quick. i am not a fan of the term. i think it gives the wrong impression of the process. i think from the president's standpoint, the number he should care about is 60.
i am operating from a substance standpoint. i will leave political calculations to everyone else. the number that matters are 30, four and 146. if the president focuses on that he has a disproportionate influence on the process. those are the numbers he needs to sustain a veto. if he doesn't like what they are doing substantively, he has the ability, assuming he continues to have good relations with democratic senators and councilmembers to have a disproportionate influence on the process, which is why it is good to be president. we can talk about this more later, but it is an issue that is complicated, and sometimes the interest of house republicans and senate republicans are the same.
in the first two years we had a bill funding the war effort and military issues, where my recollection is all but three senate republicans voted for the bill. we got 90 plus votes in the senate. only five house republicans voted for the bill when it came to the house. it's not a monolithic entity we are dealing with, which is why it operates on so many different levels. >> that is why you use the term institutional self-interest. the senate passed an immigration bill with a substantial amount of republicans. the question is what is in harry reid self-interest. you come out of alignment with the president. >> dan was referring to this earlier. don't underestimate the role it
plays in these decisions. when we came in in 2008, the entire economy was collapsing. the housing market, unemployment was going through the roof. the first time dan and i started talking to each other was in the context of tarp. the first thing president obama had to do was to go to congress and say we need a second tarp which was unpopular. support among republicans had limited. it didn't make sense. -- had plummeted. going to the house and senate democratic leadership, those were substantive conversations. they were not political. this is what we need to do to rescue the economy. that is what drives the process. we knew full well we were making decisions than. they were going to be a terrible political price.
we didn't have the option not to do it. >> just one thing. whether you call it triangulation or not i think what is going to be interesting over the next two years particularly over 12 months, is watching the president and republican leadership. i think to get things done some of the things they want to get done, you are going to have to ignore members of your own party sometimes, and you're going to have to find votes on the other side of the aisle, which at one point was fairly common. with bush 41 we had to really reach out. the only thing that could beat one -- done was to leverage or find common ground. i don't think either side if you leave it all to your own party you are going to end up in a good place to get things done. >> stand?
-- stan? >> www.c-span.org -- [inaudible] i know there is gridlock. i am going to ask this question. i go back to my days as counsel when tipper o'neill was speaker, and he had southern democrats northeastern liberals. he was doing with john boehner did, which was how do i get these guys and women to a point of consensus with limited schools i have. why is this any different?
>> i think we are probably going to say the same thing. but i think it's harder for boehner. i think the coalition speaker o'neill had to manage was broader. i think the point phil brought up about influence of the media makes it harder for boehner. even if there is largely agreement, if he has got 20 members screaming it the sellout, they can get on cable tv. they can get the outside groups revved up. people are raising money off it. a lot of these folks can raise money by attacking the leadership, more than by opposing the other party.
that adds a level. it's a very real complication. >> i was going to say it is different because there is a different type of member. it is still early on and the key point, which is the media. it is so different and put those at risk. in many cases there is not a lot of considered judgment about questions you might ask or how you might probe the issue. in terms of membership going back to bowl weevils and blue dogs and yellow dogs and all that i think they were different in that they came to congress with a different mindset. in 2010 when the republicans took over, some of us were tasked with going to talk to incoming members. in one conversation i was having with three incoming freshmen
talking about how you got things done and having a lot of confrontation, but at the end of the day you sometimes had a compromise. the country, diverse interests. -- big country diverse interests. the one member looks at me and says, you are part of the problem. you don't do anything. what will the attitude be towards a republican congress that didn't get anything done? he looked at me and said, this job doesn't define us. there are certain members you cannot break through to. they don't care. i wouldn't want that management problem. i would be held if i were the head of legislative affairs for republican congress -- i would be hung if i were the head of
legislative affairs for republican congress. >> i want to follow-up with something nick said earlier were you alluded to the importance of personal relationships. i remember back in the day when 41 first came in, you were telling me about phone calls from republican senators that you had to field and had to push back on that. you were the keeper of the relationship, which made a big difference when it came to tax reform at that time. these days, what we hear is that this white house, this president does not have those relationships and is not interested in making those, and
those counseling the president urging him, and trying to make something happen. why isn't it? >> i am going to give you an answer to that question, which flies in the face of the supposition of the question, and so it will be hard to believe. i say this with no disrespect to reporting that is done on congress or the presidency. most everything i read is inaccurate. it just is. and i feel bad for the reporters. i do not talk about my time in the obama white house. i am only here because i'm doing
this a favor for pat. i do not talk about what i said to the president. but that is the reality, and because i will not talk to reporters about it, people who will sometimes will give a distorted view of what happened. when we came in, the president was sincere about trying to bring the country together and working with democrats and republicans. part of my job, because that was his charge, was to figure out that space i talked about before -- can we find places where we can work together? this is going to be a very long-winded answer, so i will shorten it, but i will give you a context to answer your question more fully. as the president was coming in one of the first assignments i had was to outline for him and other on staff what we have coming up, and i put this in the compulsory category. november 2008. probably the first thing he did was ask for an unpopular think about $350 billion for tarp. economists were saying we needed $350 billion for stimulus. a month later it would be for
$200 billion. we were going to need $600 billion for stimulus. there is over a $1 trillion on of us spending bill that we were going to have to do in the first months of 2009. on top of that we were going to have to do the budget for the following year, which was going to be $1 trillion-plus, plus a supplemental. that was two of their big numbers, that the president had to do. none of this would be political popular, but it would have to be done. his approach was we had to do that. i want to reach out to republicans as well as democrats. so as we did tarp, and nick and i worked together on this committee as he was leaving the white house and i was coming in, lets see how many republican
votes we can get. when we get stimulus, we brought in large number of house republicans. we worked with senate republicans. we only had 59 votes in the senate, so we could not do whatever we wanted to do, to see if there were changes we could make. one of the things i learned very early on that told me things had changed, we had house republicans who came in and said if you give me these provisions, i think i can support the bill. so we put those provisions in the stimulus, and they opposed the bill. the president of the same thing on health care, where we had extensive meetings with house and senate republicans. one of the unsung heroes -- there are lots of people who describe themselves as architects of the health care bill -- a person with me spent day in and day out on the hill and she spent as much on the house as on the senate side. i'm breaking my rule now, with conversations, but all the
things he could do for outreach. i put together a memo for him of social events, policy events. he narrowly agreed all of them but asked to add some. from january to may, we invited -- now, some people did not come -- we invited every house democrat and republican to the white house for social events. every tuesday evening we had 30 or so of those folks just to get to know everybody as little bit. we had a candlelight dinner for we had a candlelight dinner for chairman and leadership in almost 200 people in march of 2009, so they could get to the know each other that's -- so they could get to know each other a little bit. we put together lunches with a chair and a ranking member in the president's own dining room.
i used to keep metrics. by march, more than 80% of senate republicans had been to the white house for policy or social event with the president. every house republican and democrat had been there or had been invited. some things were beyond our control. we had our first state dinner. we invited the republican leadership. they decided not to come. we had our second state dinner they decided not to come. you cannot force people to come. all you can do is invite them. i thought dan made the point before when he talked about house speaker boehner was dealing with his caucus last year, and there were people intent on touching the hot stove. it does not make any difference and you ask people and the president, breakfast, lunch and dinner, having them over for a little wine party, if that is what the mindset is that we were going to force this hand among
your caucus, there's nothing you can do with the leadership that can change that. my fundamental disagreement is the president did those things. he continues to do them. could he do more? anybody could continue to do more. by the time i went to the white house, i had been involved in government and politics for over 25 years. i never saw anybody better than that and all i know in my job, i need somebody who was terrific added who was willing to do it and he was. >> jim? >> thank you, pat. philip, i can appreciate that social context that you just remarked having worked in the bush white house when queen elizabeth came, and senator reid
did not come to the state dinner. he did not have a white tie. that is what we were told. i can appreciate those overtures and how important they are in building relationships. i would like to go to something that nick had mentioned about trust and credibility, that in listening to all of you, you represent here the experience of working with white houses and congresses, not only the leadership, but the staff, and how you have had to build that trust and credibility among each other. i am wondering if you can all comment -- and all presidents have had difficult backdrops to do their jobs, and the congress has -- if you can comment on the level of trust and credibility amongst the president and congress and staff, against the backdrop of executive action executive authority that has
been utilized by the president that seems to be more than what we have seen in the past, but mayby you can -- maybe you can dispute that, and maybe that is not the case, but that is what is appears to be, and how does that affect the trust and credibility amongst our executive branch? >> well, i am not involved in any of those executive actions. but my advice to this president would be if you have reached out and tried to get things done and the response has been not forthcoming -- i will not use certain quotes, which i think are obvious -- and you have got opinions from the justice department and your own counsel,
that you are well within your authority to do it, i would urge, give him the thumbs up. to get back to pat's prioritization and the original purpose of this panel, you have got to lay out your priorities and not only put the list together, put some sort of value on them, structure them from 1 to 10, and also put the resources necessary and the consequences of doing them. and if there are some things that are exc getting them done through regular order or going through the hill are just not there, and, just go ahead and do it
because you are not going to go ahead and get it any other way and not burn any bridges that are not already burned, so just go for it, mr. president. that would be my advice. >> i guess my response in the combined last two questions, i have served on a number of panels a couple of times with -- sheila burke used to be bob dole's chief of staff. she would quote gerald ford who was not the most qualified to comment on theiws, and he said the key to it all is four c 's -- communication, cooperation, compromise, and conciliation. and i mention that because i think -- and maybe partly to paul's question -- what has
changed over time and made it more difficult is people -- and i have made this point earlier -- people defining what they consider to be cooperation on their own terms. so, again, using the example because it is what i lived through when the republicans won in 1994, we were more than willing to cooperate with the clinton white house if they were willing to capitulate. but that is the problem here. we all define -- absolutely want to cooperate -- but going back to the time -- phil said before you have to understand what your political opponents need, but you need to hear them out on what they think they need rather
than you asserting if we do this and this and this you should be fine. there are some of that goes on too often on both sides of the aisle, that, ok, i have gone halfway to meet them, and that does not get it. that goes to the other c, the can medication, where you are actually hearing each other out. i think it can become much more difficult to do those things for the reasons we talked about, particularly when you have got all these external forces looking over everybody's shoulder, and i do not want to be repetitive, but raising money off of it and going to the cable networks makes it harder to find that common ground rather than to define cooperation on your own terms.
>> so just going off of what several comments about individuals and individual personalities, and in terms of some of the priorities, it seems the one priority is for lack of a better word screw the other guy. in terms of defining priorities, it seems like a basic understanding that someone has to make the first move as far as working for cooperation and real cooperation, not cooperation
defined as, hey, join me in this area. but it is making that first move is sort of already become defined as a capitulation in terms of working with obama is a capitulation. how do you see it and how would you advise, think about strategies to encourage a more positive discourse and so that democrats and republicans can feel proud of working together? so if there is a bipartisan bill, that becomes a point of a political score for both parties. >> i want to follow up the point that dan was just making as part of that, which is if dan and i are negotiating with each other, it is not in my interest to have him capitulate on a negotiation, because i do not want to do just one piece of this with dan. i want to have him be in a position where we can
negotiate on 10 bills over the next two years, and if he capitulates, and i get total victory, it is going to be very hard for him to negotiate the next time, because he will lose the support of his caucus. you have raised a fundamental issue which is if is not issue specific, not tax specific, but for own political reasons we cannot work with the president i do not have an answer for that because it is very hard. immigration of the last two years is an example of it. so the president was advised just take a very low profile on immigration, let it work out in a bipartisan way in the senate do not politicize the issue. so bite your tongue while it is going on because a good result could happen. as a matter of fact, a good result did happen. there was a bill that got 70 votes in the senate on immigration that was bipartisan and comprehensive.
a lot of people in the public interest community liked it as well. then the president was told do not exploit that issue in the house, let it work its will so the house could vote on that bill or a similar bill. then we get to the end of the process and for other reasons that issue cannot be voted on in the house. then that takes us to the previous question about executive action. the president has been very restrained in the first six years on both vetoes, because he has never done a real veto. the two vetoes he did were on technical issues. he has issued much fewer executive orders than previous presidents had. i do not know this because i was
not there at the time and i did not talking about the issue, but my guess is he looked at the issue and said i did everything the way both republicans and democrats advised me to do. i did not politicize immigration. i stayed out of it. they produced a bipartisan comprehensive bill, but it cannot happen in the house. then i assume he went to his counsel and said, what is within our legal authority to act? under the hypothetical you are posing, if you have a group of people who will not negotiate with you, and that space you talked about earlier does not exist and you have to await until the space does exist. >> i have a question about [indiscernible] would you gentlemen recognize [indiscernible] why, and the second is, the president -- and you emphasized the leverage that comes from
veto threats and exercising a veto. and can you talk about the advice you have given the president in the last few years how to use the veto threat effectively to move things forward as opposed to just blocking? >> i would tackle the latter one. i am not sure i wanted to talk to senator mcconnell about the nuclear option just because -- copout, that is right. it is such an institutional issue. i am guessing there is not a person -- i do not want to speak for anybody else -- i think many of us have experienced if the senate rules were different, wouldn't it be better, but then at times you are on the other side of that. it is such an institutional issue, and that is a legislative audit made up of people who have
been there for so long, i would defer to them to sort that out. i do not offer an opinion. on the second point, one of the reasons president obama has not exercised many vetoes is the democrats were in control of one body. so most of the time. so there has been a filter. senator reid was not going to let anything get through, even if the house passed it. the house complained about all the bills that got stacked up in the senate. that is going to change. so if i'm advising the president, republican or democrat, you have to use it once in a while and it is tremendously effective. in the old days, abortion politics played a big role, when nick was with president bush 41 and i was working for the house republican whip, and the same
principle applied when president clinton came in, sometimes the legislative process produced a bill that was inconsistent with the president's view on abortion policy. if you cannot uphold the veto, then we win, sort of thing. that is what would happen, that sort of understanding. i remember one of the vetoes on a difficult issue that we got 146 votes when nick was president bush's 41. then the legislative process works itself out. we went through the same thing when i was there after the democrats won a majority after the 2006 election. a big issue in that election was the iraq war, and many of those new members, democratic members, got elected running against the war, and the legislative agenda of that year for the new democratic majority was to
restrict the war funding. and the president thought that was wrong, so we just employed a veto strategy and said you can add anything you want any dell we can veto -- to any bill, we can veto it. over time, republicans played a political price for that. he felt that was the right thing to do and why he stuck to it. you do not want overuse if you can. part of it is if you use it, you usually get the majority to understand that that is an option for the president. so if you want to send a message to send things down for veto that is fine. if you actually want to get something signed into law, that requires cooperation, and exercising the veto once in a while proves that point.
>> you need to make sure you get the votes. bush vetoed 43 bills. we could not do it, so we would veto it, and sometimes changes were made, it was all an inter rative process. one thing you do not want to do is veto legislation and lose the veto. we will then listen about the lame duck. >> we will see in the last two years of this presidency and this next congress, the science of politics. having served last two years in the clinton administration, one of the first days on the job, i was pulled aside by the house democratic whip and he said, one
thing you have to know is when you use the v-word you have to mean it because we would do anything we can to sustain the president's veto. we never lost a veto. the other thing is you have to know when to do it, but you have to be unpredictable when you do it. there was a person in the white house who said, had a crazy aunt or uncle in the attic, ok, we are going to veto this because we can. and they know we can sustain it, so let's just do it. we threatened one veto because there was this rather significant democratic senator to us, and it was a provision that was documented in an appropriations bill, so we told him even before the report was done. you stick that in there, we are
going to veto it. he said, really? yeah. it was that night. so it is going to be interesting the next two years from the perspective of vetoes. >> again, going back to how historic everything was, everything was historic. this election was historic because republicans captured the senate. it is the mirror image of the reagan administration where he won a decisive victory in 1980 democrats picked up 35 seats in 1982, the president won in a landslide in 1984, and that was a defining moment for the country, and in 1986, democrats picked up eight seats and got the senate back. during his administration, i
think the president vetoed 75, 78, 80 bills during his time. what i am sure will happen sometime next year, and people will say it is unprecedented, is president obama will get presented a bill that is bipartisan, but he will have to veto it. people will say, now he is vetoing the work of his own party, but as dan can tell you they faced that situation in 2007 and 2008. there was one issue that came to president bush twice. president bush opposed it for substantive reasons, and the bill got vetoed. what happens the next time because of the tunnel vision that exists now, it will be played into a much bigger issue than it otherwise would be. >> [indiscernible]
kind of epitomized what is going on with the affordable care act. i am wondering what your strategic advice would be for both parties at this point. should they wait for the supreme court to rule? how worried should democrats be? is there a chance this thing will be pulled out root and branch the way practically every republican in congress campaigned? it seems it is a zero-sum game and somebody will be a 100% loser in this game, but what is the way out? >> i just have to comment i do not think republicans feel they are painted into a corner on this. they feel pretty good about where they are. i think the leadership -- i'm not sure you will see repeated attempts to repeal obamacare and i think it has proven that will never happen. you can try to do that or you can try to make changes to it and certain provisions of it which might be a far more constructive way to go.
>> i agree with nick in his attitudes towards it. imperfect analogy, but i equate it to the war funding issue at the end of the bush administration where people forget -- all the criticisms of republicans when they voted so many times restrict or repeal obamacare, 2007 we had 40 some votes to restrict war funding in the democratic-controlled house after they had won a majority because they had a political imperative based on their victory in 2006 to do that. it did not succeed legislatively. it succeeded politically. i think republicans' perspective is the same with respect to the affordable care act over the last few years. going forward, you will see at least one more effort to repeal. again, i think some of the new
members feel that was a big factor in their election. obviously, not going to succeed. now that they have the senate, there may be some effort to use the reconciliation process, but i think they would all understand that under the rules of the senate you cannot repeal entirely the affordable care act under reconciliation that would be subject to further restrictions. i do not know how much they will try to root out through that process. at some point, i have thought for some time that if they perceive real problems by their constituents that they would get to the point where nick thinks they would go, which is to look at reforms -- what are the most difficult for folks back home? but they have not got there yet. >> my disclaimer on this is i spent thousands of hours trying
to get it passed, and went back to the white house this year for six months to help after the website did not work. so i have a certain point of view. so let me answer by first going there. because of the affordable care act now, more than 10 million people have insurance who did not have it, right? we have the lowest rate of increase in health care costs in over 50 years, not solely because of the aca, but it is playing a role. since the law was passed, 10 million jobs have been created in the country. it has not impeded and has helped create some of those
jobs. we have more innovation in health care than we have had in decades largely because of the affordable care act. senior citizens have saved over $12 billion, and the cbo says if you repeal the law it will add $1.7 trillion to the deficit. if those are my facts, and notwithstanding the fact that i have a point of view, those are the facts, and nobody can dispute that, i take that and i do not just do a defense of the law, but i argue why it is making difference politically for people, and if reconciliation is used to repeal parts of the law, than what i would do is try to have made my case on all these points so that when reconciliation is vetoed, people will understand why it is important. >> what role do you think in the final two years of vice president biden in dealing with congress and how would that role differ from the role he has played in the first six years?
>> i'm happy to answer that question, but nick had has a perspective. >> i think he has a significant role to play, from an outsider's position. he is liked and trusted. so if there is an average tried -- effort to try to get things done, if there is never to try to -- right now we are in a who struck john stage, where they did not reach out to become all that is meaningless now. it is meaningless in terms that there's a lot of this trust. in terms of trying to establish a framework for getting things done, and the stage were putting the framework up, the vice president could probably play a significant role.
>> i will make an observation. in my last two years in the white house, vice president gore and first lady hillary clinton who had in previous times in the white house had been very visible actors, gore in his office in past times, almost all the time, and the first lady having an office in the second floor, were never there. hillary running for senate, but even before that, she was not visible, and the vice president -- so roles change over time which i thought was interesting to see. i was surprised to learn that they had been very visible early on in the administration. i do not know what that means for the current vice president.
>> i would just add real quickly. if ever you needed evidence that this is a government by the people and of the people, look at the role personalities play. whether you are looking at the role between the speaker and the president or other folks. president biden is well -- vice president biden is well-liked. getting ahead of myself. [laughter] i think it could be utilized. you go back to the old corporation, conciliation model. he can play a significant role in my opinion. the first two years especially, when we did things like the
stimulus, the vice president had great relationships with senator collins, senator snowe, senator specter. he spent a lot of time on health care. he did lots of things that do not show up in the box score. he understands congress, the legislative process, the president. if there is an opportunity to get things done, i think he can play an important role. >> the president values the vice president's value on a whole range of areas. >> bill, this is for you. we measure things like the success of the president of the presidential support scores -- not totally reliable but you have the highest score -- sunday 7% for the first -- 97%, for the
first two years. clinton had 86% for the first two years. that was the highest since eisenhower. but you also had some problems along the way with chairs. my question is very intimate to your situation with waxman. mr. waxman had a cap and trade bill and a health care bill that looked like it was not going anywhere in the senate. what were the negotiations like with the chairs on that issue and other issues for all of you when they seemed to get ahead of maybe what is possible in getting things done? did you go through the leadership, or did you directly work with the chair, and since you worked with henry for so many years, it must have been an interesting situation. >> when you have the job any of us have, you spend your day in meetings or on the phone, so you are talking to everybody all day.
for me -- take a step back -- president obama could not have done anything we did in the first two years and we had a very successive legislative agenda without speaker pelosi and leader reid. we could not have gotten the affordable care act done without the president, but certainly not without the speaker and without leader reid. for me, gary myrick, he was the chief of staff of john lawrence, nancy pelosi's chief of staff, i cannot imagine getting anything done without them because i was communicating with them day in and day out. the president's approach to congress -- i mentioned before about reporting -- reporting when it comes to our jobs and the president's relationship with congress, either there is a winner or a loser. so either the president is dictating to congress or congress is the table to the president. that is the frame that is out there. president obama had a different
view, which is he wanted to have a collaborative approach, and he understood there is a price for a real communication in doing that, but we would work through issues with them. it is something like climate change, there was enormous interest in the senate. senator boxer, senator kerry, on moving a bill. we had a process moving in the senate. we had a process moving in the house, and our goal was to get both climate change and health care done. there was a way to do both. it would not have been the same bill that passed the senate the past the house, but we would have been able to harmonize the differences in conference. what ended up happening was the only path to getting that done was to get health care done in 2009, and it took us until march 2010 to get health care and that
closed the space on climate. but congressman waxman, like almost every member of the house and senate i dealt with, i think yelled at me at one time or another being in the white house, and the beauty of our jobs in the white house is that your mornings are spent with people in the white house who think you are co-opted by congress, and your afternoons are spent in congress and they think they are co-opted by the white house. they called me up and yelled when he was unhappy. i was at dinner the other night with 35 members and i had to stick to them, -- speak to them, and i looked at the room, and i was thinking everybody here has yelled at me one time or another. [laughter] take these jobs because you're afraid of getting yelled at. but you take the jobs if you want to see if you can get past the yelling and find common space.
>> [indiscernible] what is your best memory of working in the white house and of doing something where you brought to congress and the president together? >> sometimes we cannot talk about these things in great detail, but my best memory -- phil has raised the issue of -- a couple times -- i was there at the end and things were going along swimmingly until the world economy was about to collapse. the secretary of the treasury and the head of the federal reserve bank were explaining to the president that the world economy was going to collapse if we did not take action quickly. i will zero in on the most to the most significant memory. on a bipartisan basis, i often tell folks in all of that dysfunction, people forget we passed tarp in 15 days, and it was a $700 billion bill. some people think that might
have been a mistake. i think everybody who is involved in it, you do not ever get -- you cannot ever prove the negative that without it the world markets would have collapsed, but i think people involved, even though the politics of it has soured, they think it is a worthwhile endeavor. so we were in the middle of this. we started on a thursday with meetings in the white house and up on the hill. the following weekend, about halfway through it, i get a call up on the hill saying we are going to have a bipartisan, bicameral meeting tomorrow. those meetings to not happen unless i initiated them because that was my job. so what was going on? what was happening, that was the meeting where mccain had suspended his campaign, it was not doing well, and he called senator obama and said they were
having big problems getting an agreement, and we should help. senator obama said he should not have much choice other than saying ok. then, mccain calls the president. when i got the call and explain why, i am aligned to try to get this passed, so now we are going to introduce presidential politics into this. this is a great development. he said sarcastically. the meeting itself was a bipartisan meeting which those of us who participated in it afterwards all felt it had been probably one of the most extraordinary meetings we had been in. leaders speak their peace. it was high tension.
cuts for paper trying to be helpful to what the president -- democrats were trying to be hopeful to what the president was trying to get done. boehner was trying to be helpful. they agreed to was a huge problem. he had problems in his caucus, again, and speaker pelosi had said if we are going to do this we are going to do it together hold hands. i will produce 50% of my caucus, you produce 50% of your caucus. boehner was turned to live within that constraint. he was looking at, if we can do this, can we do this? i do not want to go into a huge detail about this. but, there was a lot of acrimony in the room. at one point the president looked back, and he turned away, i have lost control, which he reasserted, but there was a moment where it was -- all i
won't say comical -- but it was pretty interesting. that is the one i will share. >> i have a lot. the first two years were so intense, there was so much going on. i do not know if i can pick one. the one that jumps to my mind right now is getting health care passed was so difficult every step of the way. it was grueling. when i left the white house in 2012, i left with the idea of not coming back. we moved to new mexico. we started a new life. when i came back earlier this year, part of my job involves looking at some of the letters the president was getting on the affordable care act, which at that point had been implement it.
these were letters from people all around the country talking about how the law had made an enormous difference in their lives, either save their lives all different ways, allowing them to take care of an elderly parent because they were not tied to a job with health insurance anymore. that is not one moment, but when so much time is invested in getting a law passed, our hope for all of us, generally hope the law would make a difference in people's lives. being able to be part of that difference in peoples lives was great. every day you are working in the white house is a great day because you just cannott believe you're there, working in the oval office. that never got old. >> i'm not going into an anecdote. i will to say truly it is an honor and privilege to work there. it is fun every day. people would think i was crazy because in 2002 or sometimes in seemed
-- or 1992, when we started with a 90% approval rate in february, and it occurred to me that we working really hard to lose the election, it is still fun. fascinating, because you were right in the center of everything. whether it is things coming together like trade promotion authority, which was a huge partisan victory in 1991 the people said cannot happen. the same with the passage of the iraq war resolution that same year, where the leadership of the house was against it and a whole bunch of democrats voted for it because we had built this coalition and wanted to do it, to the tax cuts in 2001 and the whole string of bills post 9/11. every day there was a lot of good memories. i think most of us were all of us would not tell a lot of the stories that we would love to tell because they were private and contained inside the white house. the things you hear and getting yelled at, and you just sit there and you just take it and walk away.
it is like the alligator crocodile eyes coming down. we will get to that, too. anyway. >> to answer a question like this, you really have to decide if you want to focus on little trivial things, like the fact for two years i never took my keys out of the ignition. why would you? if someone is going to steal your car from the white house grounds, it is going to be on tape. they are going to get this guy. [laughter] or something very significant and historic. i was involved in the impeachment, and being over with the president on a trip to ireland. he was in a city square addressing probably 10,000 crazy irishman.
and i was behind stage on a call to my office, getting a list of members of congress that he had to talk to on air force one on the way back. i was nearly in tears with the contrast. called democratic members of the house of representatives to see if he could keep his job, and there he was a hero to 10,000 irishman. what do you do with that? the best story, if i have time is during that same period, a former member of congress, it was a person i used to work on the hill, both in the same part of the country, we vacationed at the same beach, a typical small beach street, one lane, early on during impeachment, marty is not adverse to getting his face in front of a camera. so he had every sound truck from every tv station in boston on
this one little street two houses down from where i was. you could not go by. and i was there two houses up on a phone with members of congress, making sure they were ok because the president had just testify before the grand jury. so i said to myself, if those tv stations knew while they were interviewing marty and i was a peer making calls around the country, what would they do with that story? fortunately, they never figured it out. >> thank you. i would like to make a couple quick comments. i was involved in the predicate to impeachment, which was a whole nother thing. >> thank you. >> some high entertainment value. one thing that really struck me in what you guys alluded to was
how much technology has changed the game of governing and politics. phil you made a point that tweaking was not the same. some people do not even know what the hell it is now. but it has changed dramatically since 2008. i put it in further context, when i was in the white house, a couple of us would meet up with leon panetta every night and we would look at the three tv's, abc, cbs, and whatever the other was and see which stories had risen or the bad stories had gone down, and you could see wolf standing out in the yard there without an umbrella sometimes. that was a good day if the stories were up, and that was all we dealt with. now, the onslaught of information, moving information, all sorts of sinister reasons, has fundamentally changed governing and strategies.
just three things that pop out to me, and in phrases. what i hear you guys saying is that your fundamental belief is that people are coming to washington to get something done. you have looked at the underbelly of this system, and i have been under there with you and it is not pretty, but your fundamental believe is that getting something done is a compelling objective. if the space is provided to make it happen. two, substance matters. that policy, turn to make good as he does matter. and, three, nick's point, sometimes you have to ignore some members of your own party to make it happen. as a framework for going forward, i hope that prevails. i want to thank you guys very much -- [applause] thank you all.
and colorado senator elect will take your calls. plus your facebook comment and tweets. washington journal is live every morning at 7:00 eastern on c-span. >> of this sunday, author dick layer talks about the birth of a nation its depiction of former slaves after the civil war and the efforts of african-american civil rights advocates to prevent the movie's release. >> part two of the movie which is after the war is really the heart of the protest in the sense that this is where the blacks are appalled by the betrayal of freed slaves. this is the scene showing what happens when you give former
slaves the right to vote, the right to be elected, the right to govern. their first and primary order of business is to pass a bill allowing for interracial marriage because black men are solely interested in pursuing and having white women. ♪ >> the controversial story behind the birth of a nation, sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span. >> up next, a conversation on
the prospects of bipartisanship in the new congress which opens tuesday. we will hear from former congressman and agriculture secretary dan glickman and former utah senator robert bennett. the bipartisan policy center and the washington center host this event. [applause] >> thank you and welcome. it is great to see you all here. i want to talk a little bit about the role of the faculty director. this is a key person for you during this experience. it is a key position of the washington center in our academic seminars because the faculty director is the person that will help frame the issues of that are prevented -- presented to you from over 20 speakers during the week. she will frame them within an academic context to help you draw them altogether. she will also take questions
from you about your reading, the speakers and moderate discussions between all of you students. she is really central to your seminar experience. week one of inside washington 2015 is called exploring a bipartisan solutions. simply by following the news, you are familiar with some of the challenges of bipartisanism today. the week ahead will task you with thinking about many of these challenges and considerations that face congress and the president every day. with your faculty director, you will explore these issues and attempt to find some bipartisan solutions. this seminar is a unique space-based experiential learning opportunity that very few college students will ever have. being here in d.c. together as a
group and engaged in the seminar will allow us to do a deep dive into and to remain focused on the issues at hand. with the help of your faculty director, you are able to tie the remarks of one speaker to another, tie them back to your readings to small group discussions and to what you of learned. you will have the opportunity to reflect on a great deal of content and do it right here in the laboratory of politics in washington d.c. i would like to introduce you to your faculty director this week. we are really thrilled to have dr. bose back and i wish we could clone her and have her lead all of our seminars. she is the exact type of scholar that we look for to lead this kind of academic experience for us. dr. bose is the calico chair in
presidential studies at hofstra university and the director of hofstra's study of the american presidency. she is the author of a book about presidential policy. the national security decision-making of eisenhower and kennedy. she is the editor of the new york times on the presidency and the coeditor of several volumes in presidency studies. dr. bose is also the third author in the last several editions of a very popular textbook on american government called american government institution and policies. her current research focuses on u.s. presidential leadership in the united nations. dr. bose was active in our nonpartisan courses sponsored by the washington center in connection with the 2012 national political party
conventions in both tampa and charlotte. and she was our faculty director for this seminar last year. in addition to hofstra, she has taught for six years of the u.s. military academy at west point where she also served as director of american politics in 2006. dr. bose received her b.a. international politics from penn state university and her m.a. and phd from princeton university. please welcome dr. bose. [applause] >> good morning. i have never -- thank you for that warm introduction -- i have never been called before that i should be cloned. i just watched attack of the clones with my young son. i cannot tell you how many times i have seen this movie on saturday.
it gives me an entirely different vision of cologne intellectual -- clone intellectual. how is everyone today? excited for a very busy week in the new congress? i have to tell you over the holidays when i -- whenever i told people what i was doing in the year, i'm going to washington to explore bipartisan solutions by the new congress and inevitably, is congress attending? is anything going to happen? i thought well, why is it that so one -- everyone is so skeptical? of course, if you look at opinion polls, some real clear politics, president obama's approval rating is in the mid-40's. 52% disapproval. congress's approval rating is
14% which is actually good -- at least they are in double digits. they were at 9% during october 2013 during the government shutdown. and congress's disapproval is more than three quarters. at least, this was a compilation of polls for december. less than a third of the country believed we were moving in the right direction and nearly two thirds of said wrong direction. there is a lot of concern, i think, in the public. about governance. i think that is actually reflected in our elected officials as well. if you look at the op-ed senator mcconnell and speaker boehner wrote after the election, president obama's news conference -- there was not alo
lot of glorification of winning and losing. it was a different message. the results were significant and with party control shifting in the senate, it will be consequential for policymaking. this seems to be a real focus on what president obama said in the news conference on getting stuff done. our task over the course of this week is to identify how our elected officials can get stuff done. let me give you a little bit of a framework for how we are planning to do that over the course of this week. as i look at all these washington center bags, you should carry these with pride. in hofstra, she said why are all these faculty carrying
washington center bags. they can carry a laptop and not break for a year. i can tell you that because mine is starting to fray so i am so happy to have my new one. hang onto those bags. in this seminar, we have three underlying questions. what i want to do this morning is to talk about these questions and the readings we selected for you to analyze the policy issues we are focusing on -- the budget, immigration, health care. the specific policy issues over the next three days. i will talk a lot about those today. i want to talk about the questions our readings, and some of the specific scholarly debate that informs the
political debate in washington today. the term the participant observer that dr. gross used, that really encapsulates well what we want, how we want you to approach of the seminar. it is different from a 15 week class. we want you to be engaged in discussions and want to make the link between the policymaking process. very explicit. that should happen in the classroom everyday. it is difficult when you are covering a range of topics in american politics. when you have a diverse audience as well. here we are a homogenous audience. 168 students here that are passionate about american politics. we have an opportunity to make some advances from the ideas that form the foundation of our political debate to engage in
the political debate and to participate in that as all of you will be doing in the simulation. hopefully, finding ways to reach policy outcomes. i would like to read a few minutes today -- i will probably have more time tomorrow -- for you to come to the microphone and ask -- if you want to think about this now and i will get to this in about 20 minutes. questions that you would like to see us address about bipartisanship or short comments. keep the remarks brief. i will try to address your comments. think about that. i would like it to be a conversation as much as possible. i will try to put conversation in each of my talks. the questions underlying our seminar -- why don't we have
bipartisanship? i think it is pretty fair to say when you look at the 113th congress, the least productive congress since the end of world war ii. government shutdown for 17 days. we have not seen bipartisanship. why don't we have that? is bipartisanship a desirable goal for american politics in the 21st century? we should not take that as a given. the title of the seminar is exploring bipartisan solutions in the new congress. as you will see when our speakers come over the next three days to talk about the budget, immigration and health care, their definitions of bipartisanship are not always the same. without getting into specifics we have two repeats biggest him
last year -- speakers from last year and other new ones. the returning speakers have clear positions on what the federal government needs to do about economic policy. what bipartisanship actually means. this is reflective of scholarly readings as well, the one by the political scientist grossman and hopkins on the differences in the political parties. bipartisanship -- what the public always wants. the third policy is oriented towards the policy. what can the congress and president obama due to achieve bipartisanship with the budget, immigration and health care? to address of these three questions, we spent some time
this fall identifying a series of readings that encapsulate address some of the most pressing scholarly debate that is appeared most often in public discussion. the first one -- the first set of reaadingsdings, the debate over the american public being polarized, is one that received quite a bit of discussion. i often switch between the fox and msnbc, cnn to see what everybody is saying and there were discussions of 2016. the number of books that are coming out from potential candidates and their spouses. there was the discussion the new congress convening and what will get done. are we too polarized? it is fastening what the terms
are being used. it is the college debate in washington today. the first question for all of us -- the first debate that i want you to engage in as you listen to the speakers, right in your journals -- write in your journals, do we have polarization? what is the american public think about policymaking in the 21st century? a political scientist from stanford published a book 10 years ago in which he argued that the american public has not changed in the last several decades. that we still have a strong center but that the extremes on both sides -- the far left and the far right -- have become much more polarizing and much more activist. he attributes the dysfunction or
the obstacles, the barriers to policymaking to polarization among party elite. that is elected officials and political activists. there is a different argument. he says -- i should've added -- the polarization is extreme. the public has sorted. the public is not pull arise. there is a large group of people in the middle. people in the left have moved to the left and the people in the right have moved to the right but there is still a middle. he agrees about polarization among the elites but says that has filtered through to even the less attentive public. some of the opinion is more broad. professor said we do have
polarization in the public. also combine that with a divided government and what he says is misuse of -- abuse of the filibuster in the senate to halt policymaking, to create almost not impossible to overcome, but highly difficult to move past these barriers. that is the first debate that is important for us to engage because when we look at public opinion and political parties representative democracy depends on public opinion. the framers did not want political parties. the organizing principles of the party is to bring voters together. that is the first set of readings. the reading by klein on red
states and blue states, i think is very informative because it talks about differences in the composition of the political party. klein looks at the research by grossman and hopkins and finds when you look at the constituencies of the republicans and the democrats they see parties have very different interests. they see the republicans tend to be much more focused on audiology -- ideology. whereas democrats tend to have a coalition of groups that focus on compromise and governance. it is not the say one is good or one is bad. if i took all of those three words -- ideology, compromise and governance, we would say
elected officials should embrace all of them in some form. we don't want officials who have no idea what they are doing. we don't want officials who cannot govern. we do need officials to work together. the two parties have diverged in their constituency. the people who go towards one party say either one of those principles. it makes it very difficult to bring the parties together. the reason i picked klein's analysis as well as for the presidential leadership piece is that he presents a very thoughtful summary and then a critique. with the other piece, he says his view is the voters can change parties.
voters see ideology as their main goal. they can also shift of the direction of their party to be more amenable to govern its or bipartisanship. or if their party is so focused on getting something done that compromises lose sight of the larger term goal. health care but incremental health care reform rather than some of the larger plans that were proposed in 2009. that is just one example. voters can shift parties because after all the party represents all of us. think about that as you look at political parties and voters. to what degree do we see polarization? is that among our elite or is that among the general public? how did the parties reflect
their constituencies and do voter party members direct their elected officials to act in certain ways as far as either pushing for the policy process or halting it. once we shift from voters in parties, we also selected a series of readings on the institution. not so much on the courts although as we talk about health care, obviously they play a significant role. we will discuss that. for the policymaking process we are focusing on the new congress and the white house. i will talk about the reading on the "new yorker" because i think that addresses a number of issues in presidential studies
of that seems to be at odd with how presidential politics works in practice. the main debate in presidential politics -- studies today is what is presidential power? a famous political scientist published a book in 1960 that senator kennedy read during his campaign and use it as a model for how he would govern. after the bay of pigs, i believe it was aimed to be towards eisenhower. he famously said in the book that presidential power is the power to persuade. he goes on to say the power to persuade is the power to bargain. how do presidents persuade? well, he talks about
professional reputation with washingtonians that is members of congress, interest groups, the larger circle of people that make up the policymaking spehere in washington, including elected officials but not only elected officials. that is what many of our speakers you will see come from major think tanks in washington that have played a significant role in influencing the policy debate. for immigration, i was very excited we could bring two speakers from organizations that have been in the news repeatedly since president obama announced his executive order on immigration. people who are not legislating but significantly influencing legislation. presidents persuade through building their professional reputation in washington and
through public support, public prestige. how do they build public support? a common argument is they do it through the bully pulpit. teddy roosevelt is mentioned with this. i'm not sure where he actually mused that phrase but we will give him credit for it. the bully pulpit -- george edwards, political scientist at texas a&m university, published a book that said on deaf ears the limits of the bully pulpit. public medication is not persuaded all, he said. he goes on with his argument that newstaff was wrong to say that presidential power is persuasion. we have these high expectations for the president to persuade. if president obama can just give a speech like the ones he gave
in 2008 or the speech in 2004 in boston, the keynote address for senator kerry that he can move the policymaking process forward. there are discussions about president obama can do more to communicate privately with his counterparts in congress. we can talk about that later. edwards says this idea that the president can shift of the political debate in washington or can move the public is just wrong. now, maybe it is not simple to say one person is right and the other is wrong. richard neustadt, we had a conference honoring him. he spoke and said he is thrilled that we are using his book now 30 years after the publication. he hopes 40 years from now that
we will be using something else. that one book should not define a field of politics for so long. i think that is an active debate because we pay attention to presidential communication. we pay attention to the fact the state of the union will be on january 20. that president obama is visiting several states to lay out what his program for action will be. this is unusual. presidents have been delivering the state of the union address in person before congress since 1913. woodrow wilson resumed at that tradition. jefferson thought that was to ceremonial. he sent his speech and writing and that is the way it went until woodrow wilson picked up the position. today state of the union addresses are a big public event. we are pay attention to them, we look at president have to say. it has been the source of significant statements.
think about president bush in 2002 -- the axis of evil. presidents usually use the state of the unit dressed in layout. president obama has already given an indication in how we are moving forward with policies including health care and energy, immigration economic policy. he will be making the case for that in the next couple of weeks as the build up to his state of the union address. is it fair to say none of that matters? maybe it does not shift public opinion polls but edwards' evidence is fairly solid. if you are not persuaded with obama being a good example -- president reagan would go out and give a speech come and get lots of applause and not
move the public opinion needle at all. we can like a presidents communication and appreciate them but it does not mean we are persuaded to shift our policy view. so, i would like you to think about this debate over what is presidential power. is at the power to persuade? if so, how important are a pr esident's public and private communications in achieving persuasion of the public and of elected officials. we also have two readings on congress. mann and orstein have been in the public eye for quite a while. they published a book in 2012. the problem with this function in congress.
we found two articles and you will see the 22 of article -- 2012 article talks about the dysfunction in congress, gridlock and they argue the polarization among elites is much stronger in the republican elites than democratic ones. they also argued -- i think the 2006 article focuses on foreign-policy which is not one of our topics this week, but the article is significant because they say that congress has conducted less oversight in the 21st century than congress did after world war ii. they question whether congress is losing its institutional identity. the system of separation of powers, checks and balances that the framers created intended for congress as article one -- the
president is article to. wo. they argue that in the past decade in the 21st century that balance of power has shifted too much towards the executives and congress has not asserted itself. now, you can say with the government shutdown, that was an assertion by congress of not doing anything. the argument is more so, it is not just numbers, what has been passed and not. there is the argument about the balance of power. who is leading the policymaking process in washington? they focus on congress. the identify shortcomings in our the executive as well but focusing on congress, they argue that congress has been losing it constitutional identity. you have those three sets of readings. i am hopeful you will see over
the course of the week how all of those topics, public opinion, public attitudes, political parties, president and congress influence the political and policy debate that will be looking at this week. i have to put in a quick word about the simulation. i'm very excited about the roles that all of you will be playing this week. we started with -- we created the groups last year, but we have really taken it to a new level this year with the assignment. i know i was speaking with a few of you today and a little yesterday about how you take on a role. you don't have to take on the personality of someone but reflecting their views positions in congress, i think is very significant because we are all restricted to a certain
degree by our organization. by the people we represent, by what our role is whether it is in the classroom a student organization, internship or job we are all restricted to a certain degree by our responsibilities. the organization we work for and the pressures on that organization. it's easy to come up with big ideas. it is much more difficult to put ideas into practice. the theme again from president obama, from speaker boehner and senator mcconnell -- i heard it in a talk shows this morning. the american public wants us to get things done. what does that mean when you take these debates over polarization, what the political
parties are supposed to do, how they represent voters -- what does getting stuff done mean is much more confident. our goal over the course of the next week for this part of the academic is for you to participate and think about the process, but that's a play a part in that process through a specific role and see how many opportunities the re are. do we have time to take a couple of questions? if anybody has quick comments or questions, come up to the mic. i would be glad to address those now. no one at this point? i will say a few more words if not but i would like to hear from someone. we do need you to come up so we can all be recorded. if you would like to come up and give your name and a question you have about bipartisanship
or about any of the topics we just discussed. i will say a few more things now. if you would like, if you decide you have a question then come up and we will incorporate that. i did not say a lot yet about policy issues because we will be discussing those in much more detail tuesday, wednesday and thursday. tomorrow, you have the budget. and health care. wednesday will be focused on immigration. you will hear multiple perspectives on immigration policy and president obama's recent executive order. thursday, we will do budget and health care. we have assigned for each of those topics a series of
readings from the bipartisan policy center website. you will see there is a lot to cover. what we try to do was identify, you can go to the website and look at subtopics and identify information. we have 20 towards -- we have pointed you towards links of recent articles that some are a little dated but they give you important historical background. we want you to engage in the wealth of detail there is on each of these policies. it is kind of a delicate balance with policy issues. we don't want to overwhelm you, but we want you as participants in the simulation to be aware of how much information is out there and how you try to crystallize the range of perspectives on let's say health care policy. what is a full-time worker?
how do you arrange delivery services? how do we address the payments to doctors? the question about subsidies for the federal exchange, the majority of the states that did not create exchanges. how do you engage on those issues? for immigration, how do we incorporate questions about visas, temporary programs and the question of undocumented immigrants currently in the country. how do we build upon the executive order from 2012? how does the 2014 executive order get into lamented over the course of the next six months? for the budget, how do we address issues of tax policy. we have not seen major institutional tax reform since 1986. is there a possibility for tax
reform and does that address our longer-term concerns about the deficit and the national debt? those are some of the questions that we plan to address. please engage those policy readings as much as you can and try to come away from them with an appreciation of the details but also a sense of what your larger questions will be. i will turn it back to dr. eaton. [applause] >> the one really great thing about this seminar is it is a product of a very valuable and relatively new partnership between the washington center and the bipartisan policy center. dpcbpc has arranged four panels of speakers for this year and last year's seminar. because of its involvement in the creation of educational opportunity for you, the washington center awarded bpc
with twc's civic engagement leadership award this past october. the washington center has a long-standing friendship with one of our cook -- are cofounders -- senator tom daschle. he senses best to you all but would not be able to make the seminar this year. i would like to introduce you to jason. he is the founder and president of the bipartisan policy center and is respected on both sides of the aisle for his innovative approach to improving government's effectiveness. in 2007, he founded bpc with u.s. senate majority leader's howard baker, tom daschle, bob dole and george mitchell to develop and promote a bipartisan solutions to america's most difficult public policy challenges. under his leadership, bpc is developing and advocating bipartisan solutions on
immigration reform, health care housing in economic policy energy security and national security. he regularly authors op-ed pieces and appears on the national media. he frick really speeds at national forums and is testified numerous times before congress and israeli sought -- and is regularly sought out by business leaders. his first book, city of rivals, restoring the glorious mess of american policy. it was released in september. please welcome, jason. [applause] >> good morning folks.
i want to first of all thank dr. bose. we have at surfing time being partners with the washington center. i wish i had the opportunity to spend the next couple of weeks with you all reflecting on what is going to happen in 2015. also, i want to stress the fact we are about to offer a lot of opinions. they are just opinions. what you'll hear is a remarkable group of people doing exactly the same thing. none of us know anything. we all have ideas based on our experience. i think the really great opportunity you all have is towards the end of this process to form your own opinion because that is the coin of the realm. if you want to come back and work in any position, the goal is to have views on things. i think this is a nice way to get started. i will also want to ignore knowledge i feel like you guys -- it is monday morning.
i totally get why nobody jumped to the microphone. i will try to focus. don't take a lot of notes. buy the book if you really care about what i'm thinking. [laughter] my intent over the next 15 minutes or so is to give you some pragmatic optimism about this crazy democracy. i appreciate the emphasis. that has really been the spirit of this country. our founders were just profound optimists who created a system that if you look at objectively should not work. for 238 years, it has. imagine a group of people who did not know each other, like each other, live near each other to actually have to interact with one another. that has been the strength. the diversity of this country that has been reflected in both creativity but also the resiliency of our public policy. while this town is a mess, i
think of it more of a really old grand piano. it is horribly out of tune. it is cacophonous. it needs to be tuned up. i think the idea of the bipartisan policy center and this book are really about how you can provide that kind of tuneup with the goal of not creating nonpartisanship but productive partisanship which has been the essence of how we make laws over time. i will talk a little about about the bipartisan policy center. in the interest of trying to have different points of views than what you will hear from other speakers. i will start out by saying we are the bipartisan policy center with emphasis on the p. we are not the nonpartisan trans-partisan policy center. it has been the constructive collision of ideas that has been the engine of our democracy. this is not a new idea.
we have had quite -- partisanship in this country since the very beginning. if you ever watched of the history channel, you may have heard something about the clinton administration. during that time, we had the contract with america. we had a government shutdown. we had that little monica lewinsky scandal where they in fact impeached the sitting president. one that was happening, congress is passing legislation. within three weeks of being impeached, the president signed several pieces of legislation which means while impeaching him, congress was able to continue to work together and get things done. i'm told although i cannot confirm that on the day he was impeached, president clinton called speaker gingrich to talk about some ideas he had. he was a unique individual. i think the question we ask ourselves is what has happened what has changed and 20 years that does not allow washington
to metabolize the hostility that is essential in a democratic process? i guess the first thing i would suggest is think about inverting the question. generally, the way people think about washington is that toxic angry partisanship causes gridlock. there is a lot of truth in that. but, what is gridlock -- what if gridlock causes angry partisanship? in these you to a different imagination of possible solutions. this is not new. throughout our nation's history, we have been absolutely furious at one another in our democratic process. the good news is we don't need a constitutional amendment. redistricting matters but not nearly as much as most people think, bali because we have -- partly because we have sorted
ourselves that is become impossible to draw competitive districts and most of the country. this notion that the media is the blame. of course they are to blame. the media has always sucked. in 1800, the friction between thomas jefferson and john adams. two profound members of our democracy. the newspaper supporting jefferson referred to adams as having a horrible nature who had neither the firmness of a man and the sensibilities of a woman. adams' paper shot back that of jefferson was elected black people would attack your families. it makes the sean hannity-rachel maddow discussion seem a little bit less otherworldly. to the extent that you believe that there is some role in dysfunction, it leaves you to a
set of solutions that are somewhat more practical about how you can make a place function a little better despite that dysfunction and create a more virtuous cycle. let me give you a couple of those ideas and it will say a few words about some of the policy issues and the background conditions that i think might make washington a little more productive this year. you will again be challenged to stand up to the microphone. this is some basic stuff. it is hard to get things done if you don't know each other. this is simple kindergarten 101. congress needs to spend more time in washington. you cannot run a country on a wednesday. the good news is mcconnell and mccarthy have both instituted schedules that will have congress in town which would be a profound benefit. it is that sense of personal connection that has allowed people to have fights within the family and then move on the next
day. i think the professor made a good point about the challenge of having too much focus on leadership. leadership has taken all the power away from congressional committees. they used to be the place where you work stuff out and what you had commitments to ideas that were not just partisan. they cared about agriculture. they have a sense of a shared vision. they used to be the places where you would take votes and send bills forward and piece of legislation that is passed out of committee will get to the floor. that was the understanding. not anymore. these days, it is all controlled by leadership and leadership has a different imperative. it is to stay in leadership. everybody acts with incentives and their incentive is to get the best political points out of every action a possible he can which is a different incentive than a committee structure. also, senator reid, former
leader reid as of tomorrow, made a really bad call in the last session. he kind of extended a practice which is trying to protect democrats from hard votes -- from taking votes that might put them in odds with some aspect of their constituency. it did not work. all seven of the democrats he tried to protect lost. one of the main reasons they lost as they didn't have the ability to differentiate themselves from the president. everyone of them faced commercials voted with the president 98% of the time. have a been able to take hard votes, they would've voted differently than the administration on a number of different issues, giving themselves some space. more important, that is what they are supposed to do. senator begich spent six years in the u.s. senate and did not
get a single vote on an amendment. six years. not one time did he have the ability to propose a change to legislation and have it be voted on. this makes them really mad. and what my arguments is that part of the reason for the toxicity is how frustrating the job is. the voting process is what allows you to work stuff out and let the steam out of the system a little bit. accomplish in things is also a lot of fun and the failure to do that, you get kind of angry. the only place to go is to go into that kind of tribal party dissonance. a couple of other suggestions i make in my book which are a little bit less obvious -- bring back earmarks. for most of the 1970's and 1980's, members of congress have
been able to direct specific amounts of money to things they care about. it got a little bit out of control. there was too many of them. the process was not transparent enough, but the notion of getting renewed them -- rid of them is nutty. we want members of congress to take tough votes. they want to take votes in the national interest. that is the only way the country will work. if we deprive them of the ability to do anything to constituents like, guess what? they were not do anything they don't like and therefore not do anything. earmarks are the essential balance between that obligation to have a national interest and the local election that was embedded into the constitution. they don't cost any more money which is one of the big fallacies. they need to be controlled and put on a website and noticed and voted on. the idea that we have eliminated
them has made it a lot harder for legislation to be passed. finally, there has been aided by technology an ever increasing love affair with transparency which is an idea any democracy needs to take very seriously. and make the point in my book that the opposite of transparency is privacy, not corruption. that we need to find a way to balance the essential obligation for people to explore new ideas without tv cameras on. the executive branch not always having to be concerned about information requests. it is pretty civil stuff. it is not sound right to a lot of people but congress are people too. the example i give is that every holiday season,
we have to decide which in-laws to visit. and again, we have to have public hearings all the final decisions need to be put into the public record, there needs to be public voting. but that moment where you're actually trying to craft an innovative solution, where you're trying to explore an idea that is somewhat at odds with the expectations of your party, we need to encourage members of congress to avoid technology from time to time because that's the only way you're going to get to know each other. you're going to hear shortly our commissioner on reform which is the product we're most proud of last year and a lot of the recommendations i've mentioned are going to be addressed. we make a number of suggestions off of how you reform the election process. because it is certainly true that our election process is amplifying the partisanship that i think is